Royal Ascot Day One: Racing Expert Tom Lee's Preview & Tips

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Royal Ascot's punishing, unrelenting, galloping straight mile.

It's a track that takes no prisoners, a fact that should be music to the ears of French trainer Freddie Head, who prepares stable star Solow for an assault on this afternoon's meeting opening Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, off at 2.30pm.

It's a superb start to the great five day fandango, with Solow up against Hong Kong's 127-rated winning machine Able Friend, plus the Richard Hannon-trained Lockinge one-two Night Of Thunder and Toormore.

A multi-national shootout on the greatest stage, with a prize fund of £375,000.

Newmarket Races : News Photo

Hannon has won this prize three times in the last six years, while Able Friend has proved himself nigh on unbeatable around Sha Tin's turning track, but surely the most impressive credentials come from across the Channel?

Like Able Friend, the impressive Solow has won his last six on the bounce, but perhaps the key is he has proven he stays further at the top level, winning Meydan's  Group 1 Dubai Turf over nine and a half furlongs back in March, before being brought back to the boil to run away with the Prix D'Ispahan at Longchamp last time out.

Fred came out saying he'll be sharper this time, having let him down after Dubai, so if he's sharper for what was effectively his first run back, then look out.

What's more, he's done the job on a variety of tracks, is two from two at Group 1 level, and is prepared by a man who won this race in 2010 in Goldikova, and also brought Charm Spirit to win here in the autumn.

Just 35 minutes later Derby winner Frankie Dettori gets his first opportunity of the week to record a 50th Royal Ascot career win, with 280,000 Guineas purchase Eltezam his mount in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes (3.05pm), something Unibet customers should pay particular attention to given that the firm's odds compilers are price boosting every single one of his rides, but on this occasion he may have to settle for minor honours behind red hot Mark Johnston's Buratino.

Dazzling when winning the listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom, the speedy Exceed And Excel colt has more experience than any of his 17 rivals, and is now two from three over today's six furlong trip. 

A little later in the day the indefatigable Sole Power can make Royal Ascot history, by becoming the first horse ever to win the  Group 1 King's Stand Stakes (3.40pm) three years on the bounce.

Were he successful at the age of eight he'd also become the oldest winner of this race since 1930, and with Richard Hughes riding in his final Royal Ascot before retirement, he can thread the eye of the needle arriving late on the scene, and etch his name in the record books once again.

Drying ground is perfect, and you can be sure County Meath trainer Eddie Lynam will have him spot on. 

Royal Ascot 2014 - Day One : News Photo

Gleneagles should hold all the aces in a clash of the Guineas winners at 4.20pm, as the English and Irish hero comes up against France's Make Believe in the St James's Palace Stakes at 4.20pm.

It's a contest Aidan O'Brien has won six times over the years, and he'll delighted with today's sunny conditions.

Value hunters will be licking their lips ahead of the 20-runner two and a half mile Ascot Stakes at 5.00pm, a contest which wouldn't look totally out of place if the Ascot groundstaff opted to deploy 12 flights of hurdles on the track!

At huge odds I'm going to try a few quid each way on Hurricane Higgins, now in the care of Nicky Henderson, who won this race with Veiled in 2011.

A winner over hurdles at Aintree last time out, he has also won on the Flat at Lingfield since returning from a three-year injury layoff, and back to form could well be good enough to take this under top weight.

Good luck!


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